Monday 8 October 2012

Generally Mismanaged

When AJ was paired with Daniel Bryan as his on-screen girlfriend at the end of last year it felt like WWE was thrusting two acts together to see if they would flourish. Beyond using AJ as bump fodder for then-crowd pleaser Big Show there didn't seem to be a long term plan in mind for the two.
The combo proved to have good chemistry and made what storylines they were given work so well that the writing crew kept giving them more to do. Bryan emerged as a controlling, manipulative bully of a boyfriend using the frail and timid AJ to massage his own ego and gain an unfair advantage in his matches.
A good luck kiss famously caused 'Beautiful' Bryan to eat a Brogue Kick and lose the World Heavyweight title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania. Naturally AJ was blamed for this, which ultimately proved the starting point of the Bryan and AJ breakup (sob). 'The Diva Next Door' admitted she still had feelings for 'D-Bryan' but also seemed attracted to WWE champion CM Punk. In an odd twist Kane became involved in proceedings too, leading to a triple threat match at No Way Out and a cracking singles contest between the ROH boys, with AJ as guest referee, at Money in the Bank, among other matches.
It was around that time that I last wrote about AJ. I suggested that her surprising but welcome popularity boom could be used to elevate the Divas division. A popular figurehead like AJ could have done wonders for the league and its combatants.
Instead WWE elected to reinstate make AJ’s surname and make her the RAW General Manager on the show's 1000th instalment. It's become clear since she moved into the role that little, if any, planning went into the decision. AJ Lee has heard boos on more than one occasion and seems to have spent most of her time since the move flitting from one meaningless segment to another.

Meanwhile the three men that she shared screen time with over the summer have all progressed. Bryan has become one of the most over men in the promotion and has formed the comical Team Hell No alongside Kane, while Punk has assumed the mantel of lead baddie and remains the champ. AJ has developed little in her new role and feels stagnant as a result.

White suits are so 1970s
The mentally unstable direction her character has taken over the course of the past two months hasn't benefited her or the show she appears on. What made the character popular in the first place was that she felt like a real character. We could relate to her. The whacky mood swings and maniacal grin she’s been sporting recently are far too cartoonish to make AJ seem a believable person. The nature of the GM role has also led to her becoming overexposed.
At this point AJ Lee does not feel like a woman with masses of potential. She doesn’t look like the saviour of the WWE Divas scene or someone who could become a big merchandise shifter. It's taken just two months for this negative change to occur. If some time had been spent properly preparing stories for AJ's new role then this might not have been the case.
It's not too late for WWE to reverse their mistakes. Creating reasons for people to sympathise with AJ is what made her popular in the first place. The natural thing for the writing team to do would be to create reasons for people to actually like her again. If a storyline were constructed that saw her lose her job then people could be encouraged to rally behind her. Give her a month or so off of TV to recover from her recent overuse and then she could be brought back to TV for babyface duties.
In an ideal world she'd be launched straight into the Divas title scene. There's already a perfect heel opponent in place in Eve Torres, and something interesting could be concocted between AJ and former pal Kaitlyn without too much effort. I remain convinced this is the best way to use AJ Lee. Hopefully WWE won't make the same mistake twice.

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